Opening Day Defeat For Storm by Sparks

Western Storm find themselves in a tough group in The Charlotte Edwards Cup. They started their campaign on Saturday with a 20 run defeat to Central Sparks in Cardiff

Dan Kingdom

Dan attended his first Somerset match in 2009 and has been a member since 2010. He was born in Taunton and now lives in Birmingham but tries to attend as many Somerset matches as possible, home and away. He has a bachelor's degree in Geography and a master's degree in Planning, both from the University of Reading. He now works in GIS. Away from work and cricket, he enjoys travelling and reading.

Charlotte Edwards Cup, Western Storm v Central Sparks, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, 14 May 2022 – Central Sparks 156-4  beat Western Storm 136-6 (Sophie Luff 43) by 20 runs

The 2022 Charlotte Edwards Cup started on Saturday, with all eight teams in action. The format of the regional T20 competition is unchanged this year, with two seeded groups of four – each team will play every other team in their group home and away, for six matches in total – followed by finals day. The best group winner will progress directly to the final, while the other group winner and the best runner-up will compete in the semi-final. Four points are gained for a win, two for a no result or tie, and a bonus point is available for winning with a run rate 1.25 times that of the opposition.

Western Storm were the unlucky second-placed team last year, missing out on finals day on net run rate. They will have aspirations to go one better this year, in a format which is arguably their stronger suit compared to 50 over cricket.

The major signing of the winter was Fran Wilson, who starred for Storm during the KSL years between 2016 and 2019 before playing for Sunrisers in the first two years of the regional structure. Now retired from international cricket, her presence will be a big boost to the middle order. In addition, left-arm spinner Sophia Smale, of Wales, has been promoted from the academy.

The big departure over the winter was Somerset and West Country icon Anya Shrubsole, who has chosen to join Southern Vipers as a player-coach following her international retirement. Her loss will be keenly felt not only in terms of wickets and runs but star-power as well. Emma Corney, Emily Edgcombe and Steph Hutchins were not retained, but their time may come again. Academy players Chloe Skelton and Joleigh Roberts made first-team appearances towards the end of last year; they have not been named in the full squad just yet but both are talented cricketers who will be looking to continue their good work for the academy side this year.

Central Sparks were Storm’s visitors on Saturday at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. Storm chose to bowl first, as they almost always do upon winning the toss in T20 cricket, and named a near-full strength side, with England captain Heather Knight, who was playing in the inaugural FairBreak Invitational in Dubai, the only absentee. Wilson made her second Storm “debut”.

Storm got off to an excellent start, removing opening pair Eve Jones and Issy Wong in the first 2.1 overs. But England wicketkeeper Amy Jones and new signing Abbey Freeborn regrouped for the Sparks, putting together a partnership of 91 in 13 overs. It wasn’t explosive but the fireworks came later – Ami Campbell, another new signing, struck 30 off 17 balls including four fours to see Sparks to 156 for 4 off their 20 overs. Economy-wise, Claire Nicholas was the pick of the Storm bowlers on her home ground, conceding just 25 runs from her four overs. The wickets were shared between Dani Gibson, Lauren Filer and Georgia Hennessy.

Fi Morris struck three fours early on for Storm, but she fell leg before to England international Sarah Glenn in the fifth over. Hennessy and captain Sophie Luff were undeterred, however, running hard and scoring occasional boundaries in a partnership of 57 for the second wicket – helped by an over of 17 off Davina Perrin. When Hennessy was caught for 27, 66 runs were needed off 44 balls – not an easy ask but certainly achievable, particularly if Luff stayed in.

Unfortunately, Wong dismissed Luff three balls later, and despite a battling unbeaten 22 from Fran Wilson, Storm didn’t have enough firepower against a strong Sparks attack. Wong finished with 2 for 28 from her four overs, while Grace Potts took 1 for 23.

The scorecard can be found here on NVPlay

In a group which also includes last year’s winners, South East Stars, this was not an ideal start to Storm’s campaign. However, they will be confident of putting things right in their next match, against Sunrisers, a team which since their formation in 2020 has only won a single competitive match – but it was against Storm so we shouldn’t assume too much!

The match will take place at Chelmsford on Wednesday at 7pm – tickets are just £10 for adults and £5 for under-18s if you’re able to attend but in any case a live stream will be available. We will hopefully see the return of Heather Knight!